Gustave Whitehead Book FAQ

Gustave Whitehead Book FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who flew first? Order “Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight” to find out!

1. Q: What compelling new information is found in “Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight”, by Susan Brinchman?

A: The following is part of what is found in Brinchman’s book:

  • All known evidence supporting Gustave Whitehead as “first in powered flight”.
  • Why Gustave Whitehead was not credited with “first flight” earlier.
  • New confirmations of Whitehead’s summer flights of 1901 by local press, in articles never
    before seen by researchers, long denied to exist by Smithsonian curators.
  • New details about Whitehead’s flying and inventing years, with flights that continued through
  • New evidence showing why Whitehead’s designs changed.
  • New evidence proving the “Smithsonian-Wright Agreement of 1948”, a contract creditingOrville Wright with “first flight”, was planned with two of Orville Wright’s close friends,longtime Whitehead detractors.
  • New evidence concerning the formal crediting Wilbur Wright as “first in flight” in 1911,
    arranged by a secret employee of Wilbur Wright and the Wright Company, to assist with their
    patent suits, skipping over Gustave Whitehead’s accomplishments.
  • Comparisons of the “first flights” of Whitehead and the Wrights.
  • Discussion of Whitehead flight photos.

2. Q: What is some of the new evidence for Gustave Whitehead’s first powered flights?

A1: Proof now exists that reliable accounts in local Bridgeport, CT newspapers supported Whitehead’s flights of the summer of 1901 (see “Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight” p. 74-79), in addition to the 18 witnesses who saw him make powered flights before those of the Wrights. This was long denied by some aviation historians.

FACT: To date, three local newspapers have been unearthed, reporting successful flight experiments by Gustave Whitehead, in the summer of 1901.

  • These include an eyewitness, exclusive report of a sustained 1/2 mile flight, by the Bridgeport Sunday Herald‘s sports editor, Richard Howell.
  • Two additional local newspapers, the Bridgeport Evening Farmer and the Bridgeport Evening Post published articles during the era, crediting and confirming Whitehead’s flights of the summer of 1901.
  • The Bridgeport Evening Farmer validated the report of the Bridgeport Sunday Herald by sports editor Richard Howell. In 1910, the Farmer confirmed the August 14th, 1901 flight, and more specifically identified the location, as “near Fairfield Beach”.
  • The Bridgeport Evening Post, dated August 26, 1901, reported on one of Whitehead’s shorter summer trials leading up to his sustained flights.

Previously, these additional articles had long been sought, but not found, as they remained hidden in old microfiche reels. A Brinchman research assistant located the Post article in November, 2014; author Brinchman located the newly placed Farmer article(s) on the Library of Congress Chronicling America site, as it was digitized a short time before publication of her book.

In addition to these Bridgeport newspapers, the neighboring towns of New Haven, Danbury, Naugatuck, and Norwalk, CT, published articles in support of Whitehead’s well-known successful flights.

In all, sixteen new articles about Gustave Whitehead from local newspapers up through 1912 have been uncovered in the past two years, during author Brinchman’s investigation. These provide compelling evidence of this CT inventor who successfully flew two years before the Wrights, and help fill in gaps concerning his powered flight activities for the next ten years. It is likely that more articles supporting Gustave Whitehead’s early powered flights exist in the microfiche files of the region’s local newspapers for 1901-1914, waiting to be unearthed.

FACT: Multiple proofs of Bridgeport Sunday Herald editor Richard Howell’s reliability and authorship for the eyewitness account of the sustained powered flight, published on August 18th, 1901, is provided in “Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight”.

FACT: Additional testimony of Whitehead powered flight eyewitness Elizabeth Koteles
is added to the historical record.

A2. An additional interview with eyewitness Elizabeth Koteles, made in 1965, is revealed. The interview transcript, contributed by her grandson, Stephen Link, contains information about a short powered flight by Gustave Whitehead that she, her husband, and a group of other people witnessed circa 1901, in Fairfield, CT. Mrs. Koteles was also interviewed three more times, in 1974. While Mrs. Koteles was disappointed that Whitehead didn’t “fly like the birds”, she described a takeoff and landing of a successful Whitehead 1901 powered flight longer than that now credited to Orville Wright (made in 1903).

3. Q: Why did the Smithsonian sign a legal contract to recognize only Orville Wright as “first in flight”, in 1948?

FACT: Brinchman proves the “Smithsonian Contract” was co-authored by a small group containing two longtime Whitehead detractors, engaged in a nine year campaign to discredit Whitehead’s flight claims.

A: New evidence proving the “Smithsonian-Wright Agreement of 1948”, the legal contract crediting Orville Wright with “first flight”, was designed to include discrediting Whitehead.

… and much more! This is a must-have for any aviation historian and those interested in history!